After the end of the Civil War and the era of the Reconstruction of the South, the Southern states of the United States were gradually able to legally restrict the rights of black people in what is known as Jim Crow laws. This is how the policy of racial segregation appeared: the white people distanced themselves from blacks in all aspects of daily life. As a result, African Americans had their own schools, shops, cafes, railroad cars, and even places in public transport.
Even the ability to vote was limited: the right to elect and be elected was closely tied to educational and property qualifications. Of course, such social pressure could not but provoke protests that grew as the standard of living and education of black people increased. The most famous and influential leaders of 1960s were Martin Luther King – the face of the Civil rights movement – who was a fighter for the rights of blacks in US history and Malcolm X – a human rights activist and an American Muslim minister, who became a self-dedicated defender of African-Americans.
Both Martin and Malcolm were deeply spiritual men and religious leaders; however, they belonged to different religious communities. The contribution to the course of history and the methodology of both speakers are going to be introduced in this essay.
To start with, Martin Luther King led to many civil disobedience struggles as well as served as a strategist, theorist and symbol maker for the numerous movements. During the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on the 28th of August 1963, Martin Luther King delivered a speech “I have a dream” to the civil rights marchers around the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
He decided to tell his speech there to remind about Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation which freed slaves in the Southern states. One of the Martin Luther King’s main aims was to inspire people and create a world where everyone would be equal. In this speech, Martin Luther King said: “I have a dream that white and black children would one day walk hand in hand and that one day sons of former slaves and sons of former slaveowners would be able to agree to live together” . He was not afraid of expressing his point of view about the better future that he wished to see, and the most important that it is possible to make his dream come true. Another strong example is a quote ‘I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ Similar to the previous quote he supports an idea by telling about the progress of the U.S. nation and by referencing to the equality of all humanity.
Another dramatic and influential figure was Malcolm X, who defended the rights of African Americans. In one of his speeches, called “The Ballot or the Bullet”, he motivated the audience to become more determined in the fight for civil rights, as well as he was calling for Black Nationalism. Consequently, after this speech, he was identified as a menacing character by the majority of white people. Also, he emphasized his religion in order to tell the audience that besides being a Muslim he is speaking to all humanity, not just to the Muslim community. It goes without saying that African Americans all over the country had the same feelings about being discriminated. The quote “Today is time to stop singing and stop swinging…I speak as a victim of America’s so-called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy, all we’ve seen is hypocrisy… So, I ‘ m not standing here speaking to you as an American, or a patriot, or a flag-saluter, or a flag-waver – no, not I. I ‘ m speaking as a victim of this American system…” represents his attitude on politics and a sarcastic note about so-called democracy shows the real situation in the U.S. of that period. Malcolm X emphasized being a victim of this system and was calling for taking actions against it. To sum up, though the speech “The Ballot or the Bullet” he motivated millions of people to fight for their rights and gave a needed support.
In spite of the fact that both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had the same aim to reach acceptance of black people, their methodologies were completely different. Malcolm X, in contradistinction to Martin Luther King, was not a priest. Even though they were a part of different religious communities, for both serving peoples’ everyday needs was a part of every aspect of their lives. Obviously, the influence of both was very effective. Malcolm X was a man who was never afraid to speak against injustice, he was not afraid of having enemies not only among racists and the Nation of Islam but also among the US ruling elite. Even despite some limitations of his ideas, Malcolm X is one of the most honest and uncompromising fighters for the rights of the black population of the United States of America. Malcolm X argued that King’s goal was to forgive white people who act violently, and he claimed that now African-Americans did not support Martin Luther King. King did not consider violence as a solution at all. During one interview Martin Luther King told the press that ‘the method of non-violent resistance is one of the most potent, if not the most potent weapons available to oppressed people and their struggle for freedom.’. He felt that killing is a very tragic way to deal with any social problem and there is no violent solution that the Negro confronts in this country. King sounded like a “nonviolent” Malcolm while second was inflexible about self-defense of black people and wage their struggle for freedom. Malcolm’s idea can be described by the concept of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth….and a life for a life”. In contrast to King’s call for forgiving love, Malcolm anticipates an even-handed justice.
The rights movement for supporting African-Americans was very huge and diverse. Both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X eventually worked for the same goal, however using absolutely different methods for reaching it. As Malcolm X said, ‘Dr. King wants the same thing I want–freedom!’. All in all, they completely changed American society. The march on Washington, organized by Martin Luther King in 1963, really woke the whole country. After his influence, the segregated black population of the United States felt like equal people, whose opinion is being counted. During his lifetime, King became a powerful social symbol while Malcolm’s acknowledgment occurred after his death in early 1965 – after publishing his powerful and established Autobiography, collected and written by a journalist Alex Haley. This spiritual conversion is based on a series of detailed interviews that he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm’s death and outlines Malcolm X’s philosophy of black nationalism. All in all, these two figures were the most effective and lasting voices of the civil rights movements. King encouraged to “nonviolent” resistance, Malcolm advocated self-defense; however, both struggled against the same injustice and contributed their lives to this fight. Their dedication eagerness to change the country still makes a huge impact on society.